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Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story

Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story

4.0 63
by Carolyn Turgeon

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A new take on Cinderella, told from the perspective of the fairy godmother living in modern-day Manhattan

Lil is an old woman who spends her days shelving rare books in a tiny Manhattan bookstore and lonely nights at home in her apartment. But Lil has an intriguing secret. Tucked and bound behind her back are white feathery wings--the only key


A new take on Cinderella, told from the perspective of the fairy godmother living in modern-day Manhattan

Lil is an old woman who spends her days shelving rare books in a tiny Manhattan bookstore and lonely nights at home in her apartment. But Lil has an intriguing secret. Tucked and bound behind her back are white feathery wings--the only key to who she once was: the fairy godmother responsible for getting Cinderella to the ball to unite with her Prince Charming.

But on that fateful night, something went terribly and beautifully wrong. Lil allowed herself the unthinkable: to feel the emotions of human beings and fall in love with the prince herself, going to the ball in place of Cinderella in her exquisitely gorgeous human guise. For her unforgivable mistake, she was banished to live among humans, far from her fairy sisters and their magical underwater world. But then one day she meets Veronica--a young, fair-skinned, flame-haired East Village beauty with a love of all things vintage and a penchant for falling in love with the wrong men--and suddenly it becomes clear to Lil that she’s been given a chance at redemption. If she can find a soul mate for Veronica, she may be able to right her wrong and return to the fairy world she so deeply longs for.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This retelling of Cinderella follows the oft ignored character of the fairy godmother, who may or may not be a mentally ill New Yorker. Lil, as this godmother is known, is now living in New York City, broke and employed at a bookstore, years after being exiled from the kingdom of fairies for betraying her charge. Condemned to live as an old woman, her wings bound to her back as penance, Lil is overcome by longing for what she has lost, slipping in her recollections of her idyllic past into the harsh present. When she meets Veronica, a young woman perpetually dogged with man problems, Lil sees an opportunity to redeem herself. But as the narrative progresses, cracks in Lil's story (and psyche) emerge. Needless to say, readers expecting magical carriages and glass slippers will be surprised by the novel's morose tone, and though the surprise conclusion doesn't quite work, Turgeon's takes on nostalgia and regret are surprisingly clear-eyed given her narrator's unbalance. (Mar.)

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Library Journal

Cinderella went to the ball, Prince Charming fell in love with her, and they lived happily ever after. But what if the fairy godmother had gone in Cinderella's place? Such is the twist on this retelling of the classic fairy tale. For her indiscretion, Lillian has been cast out from the world of fairies and into the human world. After hundreds of years in exile, Lillian longs to return home. When she meets Veronica, a beautiful, quirky young woman with a passion for life and belief in the impossible, Lillian sees her opportunity to make amends and find a way back home. Turgeon's second novel (after Rain Village) thoughtfully peels away the layers of fairy-tale convention and delves deeper into the notion of true love-its cost, its power, its rarity, and its beauty. Romantics and fans of fairy stories of all kinds will be enthralled by this latest take on the Cinderella story. Recommended for all fiction collections.
—Leigh Wright

School Library Journal

Adult/High School

Turgeon manages to turn the classic fairy tale into a transcendental apology for the unacknowledged linchpin of the tale: the fairy godmother. Lil is an old woman, spending her days eating, sleeping, and working at a used bookstore in New York City. Her failure to get Cinderella to the ball has haunted her for centuries. No one knows who she is or why she has been exiled from the fairy kingdom to live out her days as a human, strapping down and hiding her beautiful fairy wings. But when the opportunity to once again pair a lovely, deserving woman with a handsome prince presents itself, Lil believes that maybe, just maybe, this is her chance to go home. The story and its characters are unveiled in alternating flashbacks and present time and carry readers along to a jaw-dropping, unexpectedly melancholy conclusion. Is Lil really who she believes she is, or has she created her world out of fairy dust and whole cloth? Teens who expect a fluffy, chick-lit read may be disappointed with the magically pervasive sadness of this story, but those who enter with an open mind will be well rewarded.-Charli Osborne, Oxford Public Library, MI

From the Publisher
“A terrific book, sweet, touching and great fun. I loved it.”
—Joanne Harris

Godmother is earthy, lyrical, sensual and deeply, intelligently romantic. Carolyn Turgeon has a gift for mingling the magical and the mundane. Her earthy, sensual and richly imagined take on the fair folk should appeal to fans of Holly Black.”
—Alisa Kwitney/Sheckley, author of Flirting in Cars and The Better to Hold You

Godmother is a transcendent little gem of a book.”
—Novelist Cherie Priest for Subterranean Magazine

"Turgeon's work is haunting and hypnotic, blending the line of reality and magic into a gorgeous flowing narrative.  Set against a modern day backdrop, this tale reexamines an all-too familiar story and breathes new life into it."
—Anton Strout, author of Dead to Me

“With a fairy's touch, Carolyn Turgeon expands the familiar Cinderella story into something deeper, richer and darker than we've ever been allowed. A stunning reminder that enchantment — both its pleasures and dangers — is as human as we are.”
—Daphne Gottlieb, author of Kissing Dead Girls

"Godmother is a true exploration of the dark vitality of city life and the hidden horrors of the fantastic."
—Nick Mamatas, author of Under My Roof

“Turgeon must have a magic wand for a pen–these haunting, dazzling pages turn themselves.”
—Jennifer Belle, author of High Maintenance and Little Stalker

Product Details

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Random House
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2 MB

Meet the Author

CAROLYN TURGEON is the author of severl works of fiction, including Rain Village, Mermaid, and The Fairest of Them All. Visit her website and blog at carolynturgeon.com.

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Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
ethel55 More than 1 year ago
What if the version of Cinderella that has been passed down through the years wasn't quite right? Perhaps the fairy godmother didn't resemble a plump bag of potatoes and was constantly tested by her strong feelings for all things human. Lil is an old woman now, ekeing out a small life for herself in Manhattan, working at a bookstore, and always thinking of the past--her sister and best friends. At night, she goes home alone to her apartment, sinks into a hot bath and lets her wings unfurl. Lil, you see, is that fairy who was destined to get Cinderella and the prince together, but something went terribly wrong. Now, with her apartment being sold and turned into offices, Lil begins to have a sense of urgency about her purpose among all these humans. Enter the luminous Veronica, the girl Lil believes will fulfill her destiny. The ball is a charity gala, the prince is Lil's boss, George, and Veronica will do nicely as the Cinderella stand-in. All around her, Lil sees sadness and glimpses of what she believes are the fairies, readying for the time she will finally rejoin them.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
"What occurs in the world of faerie will manifest in the world of man." This thought was the main theme of GODMOTHER. This was a dark retelling of the story of Cinderella. When I saw the cover, I thought,"a fun, light read." I was very wrong. This is a story about Lil, an old woman broken in spirit who lives a very meager life in New York. She works in a bookstore, and her life consists of working, eating, and sleeping. But Lil has a secret. If you saw her back you would see wings. She is actually the fairy who was sent to be Cinderella's godmother, but she made a terrible mistake that night. Lil fell in love with the prince and couldn't help the broken spirit of Cinderella. Since that night, Lil has been permanently in the world of man, thrown out of the world of faerie, until she can redeem herself and fix what she did to Cinderella. This book is not for the immature reader. It has a very dark, ambiguous ending. The characters all live lives of despair. However, this would be a good book to read in a book club or with a group of friends. It needs to be talked about. The writing was extraordinary and the author needs to be commended. So read GODMOTHER if you would like a more realistic version of the beloved fairy tale.
Jenna_K More than 1 year ago
The first chapter of Godmother sucked me right in and never let go. At the end of the first chapter when Lil unbinds her chest, soaks her aching body in a hot bath mixed with "eucalyptus oil and wintergreen oil, rosemary and thyme and dried mustard", and unfurls her feathery, white wings, I knew I had found a fantastical story. The second chapter delivered what I hoped for and more and within mere pages I was drawn deep into this achingly beautiful story. Not only did the author, Carolyn Turgeon, immediately pull me into the story, she had me feeling Lil's, and later Veronica's, aching and longing for something more, something better, a different time, a better place, the place where they were meant to be. The story goes back and forth between present day New York and the days surrounding the fateful night Lil, the fairy godmother, was supposed to get Cinderella to the ball to meet her destiny, because as we learn in the story, fairies are the keepers of destiny. There were no shortages of passages to linger over but here's one of my favorites... "This is what I had been brought to her for. Each human had so many selves, they said, and so much confusion. They do not know how to be who they are, who they are meant to be. That is how we help them" Because the author took me precisely where she wanted me to go, I was not expecting the twist at the end. As I raced through the last chapter my reading was about ten steps ahead of my rational thinking and I felt like I was sinking and kicking for the surface, for air, as my brain tried to figure out what just happened. When I closed the book the ending wasn't what I wanted for Lil. But the more I thought about the book the more the author amazed me at how eloquently she made me feel Lil's aching heart and body and in turn how it made me want perfect, sweet redemption for Lil. Then I saw the brilliance of the author and how she had taken me inside Lil's life and her secret torment and made me feel her every pain and heart ache so I could understand. This story is by no means a light and fluffy retelling of classic fairy tale. This book is deep, a thinking-woman's story, a haunting story of regret and redemption, framed by the retelling of every little girl's favorite love story. If you've ever felt the haunting ache of regret and lost love then you will find a lot to love and relate to in this book. UPDATE: I have made some slight changes to this review since I first posted it only because another review made me see the ending differently then I saw it. Even in rereading the ending the one sentence that points to what Lil does is ambiguous. If the other reviewer is right the ending upsets me a bit (though it's nothing I haven't read in a novel before) but I still stand by this book as a good read with great and imaginative writing.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Good, but not amazing. I am totally ok with the ending, but I was rather bored and skipped thru some of the sections.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have found a new favorite author! I love the twist and turns she has created in old fairy tales.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book to get lost in! The ending of the book leaves you guessing, and I loved it. Even now 3 years after I read this for the first time i still wonder about the ending. Since reading this book I have read everyone of Ms. Turgeons books and have loved all of them, and the wonderful modern spin she puts on the classic fairy tales we all grew up on.
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Overall an excellent read. It's an engaging story, and you constantly feel as if there's something strange and uncomfortable hidden behind the mask of the familiar. The ending was a pleasant surprise that made the read especially unique. The downsides are, perhaps, that the book isn't entirely sure which direction it wants to take. Whether this comes from genuine uncertainty from the author's part or is a deliberate move to leave the book open for interpretation I can't say, but I tend to prefer a more focused direction, even if the tale is meant to be interpreted multiple ways. The characters are engaging, although certain characters that are meant to feel unique come off as a cliche attempt at individuality. Lil and the other fairies, however, are delightful characters-especially the protagonist. Lil is instantly the sort of character you want to step into the story and, ironically, play fairy godmother for. You wish you could intervene here and there and help everything turn out the right way, or even just step in and give Lil a pat on the shoulder. Again, the entire book is an excellent read, but far from perfect. I much preferred Turgeon's Mermaid to this novel, and suggest anyone who is looking for a good fairy tale to seek out that one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Different from what I usually read. I really liked it. Read it in a day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book. This was a fantastic twist on a classic fairy tale. I can't wait to read more from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is incredibly powerful. I left every chapter inspired to see life anew and to experience it with all manner of passion. The story follows Lil, an exiled Godmother, as she seeks to right the wrong from her past and explain the real story of Cinderella. Captivating and highly imaginative.
readingnutBB More than 1 year ago
When I started this book was not sure where it would take me. I came to really believe in the Godmother and was rooting for her to fix her mistake. But the ending fell flat for me. There seemed to be a quick fix to the unanswered questions and I was left wanting more.
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